Today’s Theme is Settings!
I thought I’d show you The Dollhouse, the burlesque lounge in Las Vegas where Dahlia Baker, a dancer and grad student, works. Dahlia is the heroine in my novella, Stripped, in the What Happens in Vegas anthology!
I wanted to give the reader a sense of not just the physical space, but also the people who filled it and the city it was placed in. Vegas is one of those cities that’s perfect to be a character in a story and I wanted to open the book, draw the curtain back and introduce the reader to Dahlia and the place she feels so very freed by…
STRIPPED by LAUREN DANE
What Happens in Vegas…
Copyright 2008, Lauren Dane
All Rights Reserved, Harlequin Spice
The low, sensual beat brought her onto the stage like a siren. One gloved arm wove through the slit in the curtain and then the other, parting them as she stood, framed for a long moment. Her dark hair was piled up on her head artfully. Long, fake lashes framed big brown eyes. A deep blue satin dress hugged every curve lovingly, her breasts pushed up and out of the scooped neckline and as she walked, the slit on each side of the dress would show her legs to the upper thigh.
She let the music grab her senses and her rhythm as she slowly sauntered out onto the narrow stage. Dancer’s heels, still very high, led her through the beginning of her routine as she carefully maneuvered the long feather boa to keep from tripping.
Caught in the music, Dahlia’s muscles burned as she did a high kick leading into a round kick swiveling her body away from the audience all in a seamless set of movements.
A feather from the boa stuck to the sweat on her neck as she slowly rotated her hips in time with the horns in the jazz band. Her hands rose, slowly taking the boa to wind around her body. Down it went until she finally stepped out of it as it lay at her feet, kicking it to the side.
Giving her back to the audience, she raised one hand into the air as she turned her head, winking over her shoulder.
Knocking her hips from side to side to the smoky jazz beat, she brought the tips of her gloved fingers to her mouth to grab the material and pull it off slowly.
The first glove went over her shoulder, into the bar pit the stage encircled. The second glove came off as she stood in front of the trumpet player and pulled it off around his body.
A bump and grind circling the band and she lay down on the side of the stage near where the bottle service tables were. Throwing a foot into the air, she gave them all a lot of leg to look at as the dress slid back. Rolling up onto her knees, she unzipped the front of the dress and shimmied out of it. Then she turned, cleverly giving them her back and a pair of boyshort bottoms with a winking kitty on the ass.
The dress dropped as her forearms came up to cover her breasts and she bent, looking at them all upside down through the vee of her legs.
The cheers and applause bolstered her confidence. Up there she was beautiful and desired and that was okay. More than okay, it felt marvelous.
Still facing the band she reached out quickly, grabbing the hat off Timmy’s head. The trumpet player widened his eyes in a choreographed move and she spun, clutching the prop hat just so to cover herself.
Sensual smoke and mirrors. Dahlia didn’t show the audience any more than she’d show at the beach. They wouldn’t see her nipples and her panties would stay right on her booty with the fishnets below that.
Playing coy, she waved with one hand, pretending to almost drop the hat as she took the first step back up to the dressing room. And another step and two more. Once her body was in the doorway she turned and tossed the hat back to Timmy. With a hand over her mouth stifling a pretend giggle, she kicked up her leg and was gone behind the curtain.
Her robe hung just inside the doorway and she grabbed it, putting it on as she made her way back to her dressing area. She smiled as the music started for Roseanne, the dancer who shared the ten p.m. time slot.
Tapping her foot to the notes of Viva Las Vegas, Dahlia took off her stage makeup and got changed. She usually tried to hang out twice a week or so to watch her friends dance and also have a few drinks. She’d met a lot of interesting people and oddly enough, gained a following of sorts.
The Dollhouse was a burlesque lounge. The women did not strip totally nude and Dahlia thought of the show as an elaborate celebration of women’s sensuality. The women there always reminded Dahlia of the Elvgren pin-up girl art her grandpa used to have in his garage. Dahlia loved the coy, sex kitten she embodied on stage. It often felt like that Dahlia was her other half. The part of her she could only release up there for those minutes she was performing. The half she put away when she turned back into a pumpkin. Or more precisely a graduate student.
The club had been open for six months and already had a hip, young following with lines outside every night. The lounge itself was small and intimate, it didn’t hold more than seventy-five people. The interior was subtly sexy with lush fabrics and deep-colored leather. A nice place to hang out and have a drink with her friends that she’d never have been able to afford were it not for the fact they worked there.
Emerging from the back of the club and walking into the lounge area, she searched for her friends’ table. Catching sight of them, she also noticed her boss at his usual table. William Emery was a very sexy man. High powered, really charismatic and extraordinarily successful. He’d broken ground on the first retro style burlesque club in Vegas and now others copied him. He seemed to constantly be in motion, working twelve to fifteen hour days. She admired that even if he did come off like a cold asshole sometimes.
He certainly liked a wide variety of women. Although she’d give it to him, he seemed to keep a professional wall between himself and his dancers. He flirted, but he didn’t prey on them. He paid her well and didn’t hit on her, she was down with that. Smiling, she sent him a wave and a wink as she made her way past.
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